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Whatever personality Lewis has is smothered by an oppressive pre-ordained sense of direction: she sounds simply like another cog in an impressive, but, soulless machine.

Rating: 5 ½ / 10

Mark Keane, 30 Nov 2007

Simon Cowell’s shit-eating grin will have broadened another inch or so with the news that his warbling Whitney-a-like Leona Lewis has replaced the Arctic Monkeys as the fastest selling UK debut artist of all time. Essentially by using The X-Factor as a midwife to deliver his chart-bothering offspring, Cowell has successfully bypassed any sort of quality control: it doesn’t matter what I or you think of this record, it will shift shedloads of units regardless.

To his credit, Cowell has finally unearthed something of a diamond in the trough of pigswill he has to wade through yearly on the TV crappaoke-fest. Lewis has an impressive set of lungs, caterwauling impressively on sweeping showstopper ‘Take A Bow’ and slick slow jam ‘I’m You’. There’s even a hint of musical invention on the eerily obsessive ‘Bleeding Love’.

Most of the record sadly remains restrained, anodyne, and hopelessly safe. Syrupy overwrought tearjerkers are all well and good, but it’s hard to have a sense of simpatico with such ruthlessly engineered by-numbers blandisms as ‘Here I Am’, ‘A Moment Like This’ and the gloopy, gagging cover ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. Whatever personality Lewis has is smothered, strangled by an oppressive pre-ordained sense of direction: she sounds simply like another cog in an impressive, but, soulless machine. This sort of driven, unfettered commercialism will get you to the top of the charts... and that’s all that matters, right?

Rating: 5 ½ / 10
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